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Transmission fluid level check question

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Old 08-11-2012, 04:43 PM   #1
1998 Ford Explorer Sport
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Transmission fluid level check question


To me, this seems like a no brainer question, but Im really serious. Why is it that when I try to check the transmission fluid level, sometimes I can easily tell where the level is at, and other times I cannot tell where the fluid level stops or stops?

To give some background, a few months ago I put in a transmission fluid temperature gauge following one of the tutorials on this site, and so Ive been keeping my eye on the fluid level because its dripping a little bit out of the fitting for the gauge. This site is great, by the way, and has helped me through several repairs on our 98 sport.

When I check the transmission fluid level, however, with the car running and when the transmission fluid has heated up, sometimes it is very easy to read, and other times its like there is parts of the dipstick where there is fluid but then as I look down the dipstick there will be a part with no fluid on it and then a little farther down there will be a consistent fluid mark....? Its not like checking the oil, where there is a very clear line of where the oil level it.

Does it have to do with the temperature of the fluid? If the fluid is very hot, does it slide off the dipstick easier and make it harder to find an accurate picture of the fluid level?

Im just curious, becuase like I said, I just put in that new tranny gauge and I also just recently changed the tranny fluid and filter, so I dont want to be running the tranny low on fluid.

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Old 08-13-2012, 09:01 AM   #2
Engine Repair Guy
Geelong, Australia
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I find the best way to check the Tranny fluid level is to have your Explorer parked on a level surface with the engine running in Park with a warm tranny. Remember, you have to drive something like 20kms to warm your tranny.

1~ pull the dip stick out.
2~ dry it really well on your shirt or something
3~ in one motion push the dipstick all the way in and immediately pull it back out
4~ examine dipstick end.

For some reason this is the best way to get an accurate reading, may be because the Transmission fluid is dripping down onto the dipstick when the trans is operating.

I burned my tranny fluid bad once, it looked like motor oil, so every month I drain the pan by pulling one of the cooler lines then add 4 litres of mercon V as not to shock the system too much. So I get plenty of practise checking the tranny fluid, lol.

98 XLT SOHC V6 Export - Busted tranny - Recently Rebuilt Engine For Sale
2002 Limited SOHC V8 - Bent Rod - Awaiting Repair

It's the all American SUV, I tell you w'hut....
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